Sikhs rioting in Punjab on news of Sant Ramanand murder prompts curfew

May 26th, 2009 - 2:06 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Punjab riots Police and protesters have fought pitched battles throughout the Indian Punjab region following the murder of a prominent Sikh guru in a temple in Austria.

Fifty-seven-year-old Guru Sant Ramanand was attacked by six men armed with knives and a pistol during a gurdwara at a temple in Vienna on Sunday and died from his wounds in hospital early Monday.

Another preacher, 68-year-old Sant Nirajnan Das, who was among 15 other people injured, is reported to be stable.

Thousands of members of the Dera Sachh Khand went on the rampage in towns and cities across the entire Punjab after hearing news of the death of their leaders death.

In Punjab’s Doaba belt protesters of the sect armed with sticks, swords, bricks and stones came out destroying public and private property, burning vehicles and blocking the iHoshiarpur to Jalandhar highway and other roads.

The rioting quickly spread to other Punjab towns, including Phagwara, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, and Jalandhar, where at least four people were injured when police opened fire at protesters who attacked a police station.

In Phagwara rioting mobs burnt two trains, ransacked shops before setting them on fire here and beat up passersby. The situation in Lhawara and surrounding areas remains tense, with many tourists, rail and bus passengers are trapped in the blockade.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm, as an indefinite military imposed curfew was applied to the four towns where the rioting was worst.

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